The one outstanding suspect in a well-established auto and property theft ring brought down on Thursday has surrendered to police.
Officers in Toronto, York Region and Niagara had carried out multiple raids early Thursday morning, resulting in eight arrests and the recovery of 23 high-end vehicles and other stolen property worth more than $5 million.
The ninth suspect surrendered to police on Friday morning, police said at a news conference shortly after.
Project Yellowbird targeted a “sophisticated and brazen” group which allegedly had been breaking into high-end homes and stealing vehicles for more than 10 years.
“What is unique about this case is that this is the first time that criminal organizational charges have been laid against a crime group that is involved specifically and primarily in property-related crimes,” said Dep. Chief Peter Sloly.
Toronto police said they launched their investigation on Dec. 22, 2013 after thieves made off with a Porsche Carrera (Yellowbird) and an Audi S4.
The resulting raids on Thursday resulted in the recovery of 23 high-end vehicles, including Aston Martins, Bentleys, BMWs and Mercedes SUVs. The Porsche and three other vehicles were found in Europe.
A large amount of property was also seized, ranging from imitation firearms, designer clothing and purses, and jewelry.
“We were fortunate there was no violence at all,” said Det. Dave Zajac.
Police said officers carried out more than 30 search warrants in businesses, residences and public storage lockers throughout the GTA.
Three major crime units came together after a high number of break-and-enters and stolen vehicles in the vicinities. 32, 22 and 53 divisions worked together, along with police departments in York, Halton, Peel and Niagara. Canadian border agents also assisted with the discovery of the vehicles overseas.
“This year we saw a disturbing trend,” Sloly said.
“Break-and-enters and auto thefts were the only two of the seven major crime indicators that were trending up this year … This investigation — the arrests, the charges that have been laid — will take a major bite out of that particular crime trend.”
Click here to see the some of the seized property.